Majorana fermions promise information technology without resistance

A new multi-node FLEET magazine examines the search for Majorana fermions in iron-based superconductors.

Majorana’s elusive fermion, or “angel particle”, proposed by Ettore Majorana in 1937, behaves simultaneously as a particle and an antiparticle – and remains surprisingly stable rather than self-destructive.

Majorana’s fermions promise resistance-free information and communication technology that meets the growing energy consumption of modern electronics (already 8% of global electricity consumption) and promises a sustainable future for computers.

Moreover, it is the presence of Majorana zero-energy states in topological superconductors that has made these exotic quantum materials the primary candidate materials for realizing topological quantum computation.

The existence of Majorana fermions in condensed systems will help FLEET research future low-power electronic technologies.

The angel particle: both substance and antibody

Fundamental particles such as electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks and neutrinos (called fermions) each have their own separate antiparticles. An antiparticle has the same mass as its ordinary partner, but opposite electric charge and magnetic moment.

Conventional fermions and anti-fermions make up substance and antibody and destroy when combined.

“Majorana’s fermion is the only exception to this rule, a composite particle that is its own antiparticle,” says the corresponding author Professor Xiaolin Wang (UOW).

Despite the intense search for Majorana particles, the clue to its existence has been intangible for many decades, as the two opposing properties (i.e., its positive and negative charge) make it neutral, and its interaction with the environment is very weak.

Topological superconductors: fertile soil for the angelic particle

Although the existence of the Majorana particle has not yet been discovered, despite extensive research on high-energy physical facilities such as CERN, it may exist as a single-particle excitation in system condensed matter, where band topology and superconductivity coexist.

“Over the past two decades, Majorana particles have been reported in several superconducting heterostructures and have been demonstrated with a strong potential in quantum computing applications,” according to Dr. Muhammad Nadeem, FLEET postdoc at UOW.

A few years ago, a new type of material called iron-based topological superconductors was reported to contain Majorana particles without the fabrication of heterostructures, which is important for use in real devices.

“Our article reviews the latest experimental results in these materials: how to obtain topological superconducting materials, the experimental observation of the topological state, and the detection of Majorana zero states,” explains Lina Sang, PhD candidate at UOW.

In these systems, quasi-particles can mimic a particular type of Majorana fermion, such as the “chiral” Majorana fermion, one moving along a one-dimensional orbit, and Majorana “zero state”, one remaining confined in a zero-dimensional space.

Majorana Zero Mode applications

If such condensed substance systems housing Majorana fermions are experimentally available and can be characterized by a simple technique, this would help scientists guide the construction of low-energy technologies whose functionalities are made possible by the exploitation of the unique physical properties of Majorana. fermions, such as fault-tolerant topological quantum computation and ultra-low-energy electronics.

Accommodation of Majorana fermions in topological states of matter, topological insulators and Weyl semi-metals will be covered at this month’s major International Conference on Semiconductor Physics (ICPS), to be held in Sydney, Australia.

The IOP 2021 Quantum Materials Roadmap examines the role of intrinsic spin-orbit coupling (SOC) -based quantum materials for Majorana mode-based topological units, presenting evidence at the material boundary of strong SOCs and superconductors, as well as in an iron-based system. superconductor.

The work is supported by the Australian Research Council’s Centers of Excellence, Future Fellowship and Discovery programs and combined research across FLEET University Wollongong, RMIT University and UNSW, Sydney Nodes, as well as the partner organization Tsinghua University (China).

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